7 Proven Ways to Easily Become a Better Trade Show Manager

Nothing beats a trade show for creating a powerful environment for person-to-person meetings.

Custom Modular Exhibit with Slatwall, Storage, Reception Counter, Backlit Graphics, and Metal Product Display (tree)

Custom Modular Exhibit with Slatwall, Storage, Reception Counter, Backlit Graphics, and Metal Product Display (tree)

The key to being a successful trade show manager is simple. You need to create memorable, informational and enjoyable interactions with your prospects.

There’s no other environment that can put your company’s sales force in touch with so many of the people who want to buy.

We’ve come up with seven things you can do to be a better trade show manager, and make your company more successful at the same time.
Click Here to Receive the Free Trade Show Playbook

1. Create A Master To-Do List

There’s nothing that will make your job easier than to have one place where you can find everything related to your show.

It sounds simple—and maybe elementary. But if you’re in the habit of writing notes on little slips of paper, stop now!

If you organize, you won’t need to curse yourself when you lose something. Whether you need to find an invoice, the contact number of one of your suppliers, or the plans for setting up your exhibit, its in the binder. It’s easy to do.

Use a three-ring binder, and make tabs for the tasks you know about in advance. These tabs may include set up, booth selection, tear down, product demos, etc.

Check the event’s website for checklists the show organizer may provide, as well as all the deadlines you need to hit.

You can do this organization and note taking on a smart phone or pad these days, but the important thing is simple – do it!

2. Get To Know The Show Producer’s Staff

There’s likely one person in the show producer’s office that addresses most of your questions and concerns. Try to route all your inquiries through that one person.

Whether you need advice on choosing a booth space or permission to hang signage above your exhibit, ask the same person. It’s their job to help trade show managers like you, and they’re usually quite cooperative and responsive.

But it should be a two-way street. Make it a point to meet with this person when you’re at the show. Consider a thoughtful thank you gift. This should be something special for him or her (not the swag you give away in your booth; they have plenty of whatever those are!).

If possible, use this contact to help you choose next year’s booth space while you’re at the show.

3. Plan To Meet With Colleagues

Get to know other trade show managers.

VK-1122 MEO Portable Hybrid Display with Fabric Graphic and Backwall Workstations

VK-1122 MEO Portable Hybrid Display with Fabric Graphic and Backwall Workstations

You never know when a situation will arise where you could use a second opinion, some seasoned advice, or even a little help.

It could be as simple as needing to borrow a cable or a piece of Velcro during set-up.

A show can also be a great place to meet up with people you know from your LinkedIn groups. In fact, a show may be the only place you’d ever meet face to face.

4. Make Lead Retrieval Simple

Your lead retrieval tool doesn’t matter. It could be a badge scanner (or more than one, if you expect crowds), a printed lead form, or just collecting business cards.

The critical factor is that you follow a pre-determined process every time you get a lead. Make sure the information on the form is legible, complete and coded in some way with the prospect’s needs. This will  help whoever follows up do their job effectively.

It could be a simple notation of “C” “W” and “H” for cold, warm and hot, or as involved as you need it to be for your circumstances.

Just make sure to follow this process with each lead.

If you’re using a scanner, upload your data to your CRM system before the show is over.

If you’re using paper forms or business cards, be cautious.  Consider photocopying them before you head home. Give someone else one set and keep the other. Consider the worst case – you’d hate yourself if your lost luggage contained all the leads you and your team had worked so hard for!

5. To Swag Or Not To Swag

It’s always a tough decision to make: whether you need giveaways in your exhibit.

There are valid points of view on both sides. Here’s mine: if you decide to use a premium of some sort, make it meaningful to the people who are going to receive it.

A computer company giving out potholders is a bad idea. Unless, that hot pad is tied to a promotion about the “hot” new product they’re introducing.

What I mean is, not every promo item works in every situation. If you tie it to what you’re doing in your exhibit, a premium makes sense.

And while we’re on the subject, what do we do with the people who just want to collect swag, with no intention of buying?

My advice is to explain that premiums are only for customers who qualify. “Qualify” can mean anything you want, from filling out a lead form to seeing a product demo.

A small hurdle placed in front of most tchotchke collectors will usually make them move on, empty-handed.

6. Field A Good Team

You can’t win at this game unless you put good players on the field.

Find people who are motivated, outgoing and knowledgeable about your product or service.

Custom Backlit Tower with Closet Storage and AV and Literature Accessories

Custom Backlit Tower with Closet Storage and AV and Literature Accessories

Your job as the trade show manager is to train them and provide talking points and product information. Make sure everyone’s on the same page (even veteran booth staffers).

Another part of your job should be ensuring that there’s a scripted product demo. This demo should show prospects how your product functions. It should point out its features and benefits (ideally in a winning comparison to your competitors).

7. And one more thing: the booth staffing schedule.

Make sure the booth staffing schedule specifies where your people need to be, and when they need to be there.

Make sure all of the booth staff has a copy of the schedule. You should also include rules about what’s not allowed in the booth (eating, talking on cell phones, etc.).

It’s also a good idea to have everyone’s contact information (email and cell numbers) in the same place on that document, so they can call each other if needed.

Do these 7 things—and do them well—and you’ll be a guaranteed success as a trade show manager. Your show will run more smoothly and you’ll have fewer headaches, ulcers and sleepless nights. What’s more, your staff will be well prepared to do the best job possible with every attendee who enters your booth.

Every exhibitor’s goal should be to do everything in their power to create a powerful experience. Create something special in your trade show booth, so that people remember their interaction with you. We can help with that. We’d be happy to discuss your needs, or help you work through your thoughts and ideas for bringing a new look to your booth.

Give us a call if you’re not attracting the attention you want. We have lots of great trade show booth ideas.

Our team can use those ideas to help create an exhibit that helps make your presence at each trade show an unforgettable success. Call us at (425) 556-9511 or email [email protected]

For more, check out things you have to do before your next trade show or what makes your strategy work.

Click Here to Receive the Free Trade Show Playbook